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Northwestern University

Graduate Loan Options

You may be eligible for a variety of federal, institutional, and/or private loans. Learn more:

You can also view a graduate loan comparison table to learn more about your options.

It is important to note:

Federal Loans

To apply for these loans, students must first submit a FAFSA. See application steps for more information on this process. Note: only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are able to participate in federal loan programs.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan
Borrower Graduate and Professional Students enrolled at least half-time. They do not need to demonstrate financial need. Graduate and Professional Students enrolled at least half-time. They do not need to demonstrate financial need.
Lender William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program
Loan Amount

Up to $20,500 per academic year.

Note: MD students maybe be eligible for higher limits. Learn about loan amounts for medical students.

Up to the cost of attendance less any other financial aid received annually.
Interest Rate
  • Fixed 5.31% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017
  • Fixed 5.84% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2015 and 6/30/2016

Interest accrues from the time of disbursement. Interest rates for loans disbursed prior to 7/1/2015 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

  • Fixed 6.31% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2016 and 6/30/2017
  • Fixed 6.84% for the life of the loan for loans with a first disbursement between 7/1/2015 and 6/30/2016
Interest accrues from the time of disbursement. Interest rates for loans disbursed prior to 7/1/2015 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
Fees
  • 1.069% for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2016
  • 1.068% for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016
Fees for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2014 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
  • 4.276% for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2016
  • 4.272% for loans first disbursed on or after October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016
Fees for loans first disbursed on or after 10/1/2014 can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
Application Process

First time borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. Complete the required online entrance counseling and Stafford loan master promissory note (MPN).

Returning borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. If you completed the entrance counseling and MPN in the previous aid year, you do not need to resubmit these documents. If 12 months have elapsed since you last received Stafford loan funds in your program at NU, you will need to complete a new MPN.

First time borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. Complete the required online entrance counseling and Grad PLUS master promissory note (MPN).

Returning borrowers: Complete the Accept/Decline Financial Aid process via CAESAR identifying the amount you wish to borrow. If you completed the entrance counseling and MPN in the previous aid year and did not require an endorser, you do not need to resubmit these documents. If 12 months have elapsed since you last received Graduate PLUS loan funds for your program at NU or if you required an endorser on your previous year's Graduate PLUS loan, you will need to complete a new MPN.

Credit Information The Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan program is not credit based. No credit check is required. Credit approval is based on federally mandated criteria, not a credit score. Learn about the credit requirements needed to qualify.
Repayment The borrower has up to 10 years to repay the loan under the standard repayment plan. Extended and income-based repayment plans are available under certain conditions. The borrower has a maximum of 25 years to repay the loan.

Stafford Loan amounts for MD students

PLUS Loan credit requirements

In order to qualify for the Graduate PLUS loan, you must not have an adverse credit history. As defined by federal regulations, you may have an adverse credit history if you have any of the following items on your credit report:

Recent changes in the law that governs the terms and conditions of Grad PLUS loans establish a specific circumstance for certain Grad PLUS loan applicants who would otherwise be considered to have an adverse credit history. Specifically, a Grad PLUS loan applicant may qualify for a Grad PLUS loan based on extenuating circumstances: if the applicant has been or is delinquent for 180 days or less on mortgage loan payments or on medical bill payments for the applicant or the applicant's family AND does not otherwise have an adverse credit history as determined in accordance with the federal regulations that apply to Grad PLUS loan applicants.

Borrowers with an adverse credit history may apply for the loan with a cosigner (called an endorser) who does not have an adverse credit history.

Borrowers who become eligible for PLUS funding by documenting extenuating circumstances or adding an endorser will also need to complete credit counseling for PLUS borrowers at www.studentloans.gov before the funding can disburse.

Private loans

Private outside agencies also offer loans to Northwestern students. You can find more information about private student loan opportunities at Northwestern’s Student Financial Services website.

Some programs and enrollment statuses may only be eligible for private student loan funding. If this will be applicable to you, the Chicago Office of Financial Aid will note this on your official financial aid package. Please contact our office with any questions.

All loans are subject to final approval by your lender(s) based upon criteria set forth by federal regulations and lender policies. Parent/Graduate PLUS, Northwestern, and private loans are credit-based loans.

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